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GPC to submit mass resignations once 60% of practices opt in

The GPC in Northern Ireland will start collecting resignations from GP practices next week following a historic vote earlier today.

Speaking with Pulse after the meeting GPC Northern Ireland chair Dr Tom Black said once they had reached a critical mass of 60% of practice resignations ‘we will step outside the NHS’.

The move, which will see GPs leave the NHS and potentially charging around £45 for appointments, was supported by 97% of BMA members who attended a series of meetings at the end of 2016.

He said the vote by GPC members had been unanimous but there was a lot of anger that ‘GPs were being forced out of the NHS’.

Practices would essentially be giving notice so there would be a six-month period where the GPC would develop the ‘Plan B’ in full to decide details on charging for appointments and around staff, pensions and indemnity.

There are currently 343 GP practices in Northern Ireland and all partners in the practice must agree before submitting undated resignations, because the practice and not individual GPs hold the contracts. 

The GPC has called for an urgent meeting with the health minister to discuss the issue.

This is one of the most radical measures ever proposed by GP leaders in the UK, in response to the ‘collapse’ of general practice in Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland GPC chair Tom Black said.

‘The Department of Health and the Government have failed the health service,’ Dr Black said.

NIGPC chair Dr Tom Black said the decision to proceed with undated resignations was taken ’with deep regret’.

’General practice is on the brink in Northern Ireland and we feel we have no alternative to proceed with collecting undated resignations from our members,’ said Dr Black.

’Continued inaction to save general practice has forced us into this situation. The work of the Northern Ireland government may have stalled, but the need to provide safe and efficient healthcare to patients has not stalled. General practice is being delivered under unsustainable conditions that we can no longer tolerate.’

 A statement from the NI GPC said it was calling for:

  • Investment of 10% of the Northern Ireland healthcare budget on a safe, sustainable GP service for patients;
  • Training and recruitment of more GPs so practices at risk of closure can stay open and meet the needs of patients
  • Reducing bureaucracy and improve IT systems so more time can be spent providing care to patients.


Readers' comments (53)

  • "Forward the Light Brigade . Charge for the guns ! "

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  • Council of Despair

    Dr Sam Izdat | GP Partner/Principal26 Jan 2017 10:47am and fellow 'trapists' should read pulses other report to see where we are heading -

    it is very sad but this is the outcome if we do nothing. we face a stark choice NO SERVICES AT ALL or PLAN B.

    simply stating it is a trap doesn't help as it can't pay the bills.

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  • The light brigade did reach the guns and kill/disperse the Russian gunners.... just didn't get any support to consolidate

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  • This is all smoke, there would NOT be any mass resignation. First do mass resignation and then talk. Government is not going to budge with all these false threats. There is a difference between threatening and actually resigning.

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  • AlanAlmond

    I take my hat off to the folk in Northern Ireland, I hope it actually happens. I guess NI have a clear model to follow close at hand in Southern Ireland ..the change wouldn't be such a psychological wrench as would be the case in the rest of the UK - who simply aren't used to the idea of paying to see a GP. Even if this is a trap I can't see there is any other real choice. The people have voted in a government that doesn't want the current model to continue and it's unlikely the government or its approach will change anytime soon. If anyone believes there's anything good in what general practice is/once was...I can't see any other solution. It's either leave and preserve some of whats good or stay and watch it competitive destroyed, replaced by 24 hour WICs with no continuity of care.

    If we did this in the rest of the UK we will end up with a dual system. Publicly funded free at the point of delivery open access 24 hour drop in centres staffed by nurses, physicians assistants and the odd salaried GP, probably run by the likes of Virgin or the local Hospital vs private 'bespoke' GP practices used by those who can afford it. I don't believe the bulk of the general practitioner work force would be working within the private sector, not enough people would be prepared to pay and the Government would make it very difficult, and of cause there would be no end of shouting and blaming ....bring it on. It's either that or a complete end to what we now call General Practice. At least if we left some of it might survive.

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  • Una Coales. Retired NHS GP.

    @Downtoearth you are right! Complete media boycott on news of the historic NI GPC vote to ditch the NHS GP contract. I even emailed the link to the BBC health editor. I wonder why government wants to keep this news hush, hush...? Afraid that English GPs will seek independence too from an untenable underfunded contract?

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  • You know, working as locum chambers and contracting out the work may not be a bad idea - that way we can control workload and pay.

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  • Before we get too carried away with this, lets see if 60% of NI practices vote to leave. Has anyone seen a viable plan B yet?
    I don't think this is a trap either. This government couldn't be an architect of any smart long term moves. They weren't even here when circumstances leading to his crisis were being created. They seem to have no strategy or view on anything besides their religion- trident.

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  • Una Coales. Retired NHS GP.

    Well done BBC NI and GPC NI!

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  • Dear Sam and Coral, I don't hear you proposing anything else more tangible? Its not a 'trap'- a trap implies something you cannot get out of. The GPs in NI are getting out of the trap which is for GPs to stay were they are working harder and and harder for less and less. Its sounds like you are both more trapped by your fear to leave the NHS. The government cannot keep your earned pension. There is nothing that states you must complete 'X' number of years. Ive been in and out of the NHS for years. Nothing to be frightened of. NHS needs us more than we need it!

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